Local makers enhance design with originality

Vendor curation is the key to DesignBuildCincy, says show creator Doug Hart. “Many—if not most—of our vendors can’t be found at other shows,” says Hart, whose event takes place Oct. 27-28 in Music Hall’s Grand Ballroom in Over-the-Rhine. “The biggest job I face is convincing the best people to participate. They’re usually the busiest, and in the case of the artisans/fabricators, often running small shops with big production backlogs.”

The resulting show, Hart says, is boutique in nature, targeting attendees looking to add a luxury feel to projects in the residential and/or small-commercial markets. “Those coming to the show can meet over 100 artisans, architects, contractors, designers, fabricators, retailers and suppliers, many who can make pretty much anything you need for your next project,” he says. “They can also buy or order furniture and furnishings from such respected names as Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, Switch Lighting & Design, Orange Chair/Encompass Woodworking, and dozens of other companies.”

In addition, those doing a kitchen or bath project can meet with more than 30 designers, contractors, cabinet makers and tile, flooring and fixture suppliers specializing in those areas. “Beyond that, attendees can meet architects and designers from nearly twenty of the area’s finest firms,” says Hart.

Here’s a sampling of some noteworthy vendors slated to set up shop at this year’s show:

1st in Design1st in Design owner Burt Aarsen designs, engineers, fabricates and installs indoor and outdoor stairs, railings and custom furniture. (Returning Vendor)

Cincinnati Wood Collaborative consists of three former chefs-turned-woodworkers - David Bach, Andrew Mersmann and Sloan Cashion - whose recent projects include Boomtown Biscuits & Whiskey and Lucius Q in Pendleton, and Little Miami Brewing Company in Milford. They will be introducing semi-customizable, flat-pack and ship-ready furniture made in their shop at DesignBuildCincy. (New Vendor)

DBS Stainless Steel FabricatorsDBS Stainless Steel Fabricators specializes in making custom bars, tops and equipment for the restaurant industry, and also has done residential work, including a plunge pool for an Indian Hill home. (New Vendor)

M Concrete Studios is comprised of four brothers from Dayton, Ohio, who specialize in highly custom concrete architectural elements such as commercial and residential counters, fireplaces, custom tile and sink basins. (Returning Vendor)

MetalcraftMetalcraft custom designs and fabricates residential range hoods. Though the company is perhaps best known for its indoor hoods, it can also create outdoor range hoods, cabinetry, architectural details, planters, furniture and countertops. (Returning Vendor)

Radius ConceptsRadius Concepts’ Matthew Boeing designs and fabricates furniture, architectural components and sculptures for interior and exterior applications. (Returning Vendor)

Village Workshop is an Oldenburg, Indiana-based woodworking and cabinet maker. It builds and install bars, entertainment centers, kitchens and other items fabricated from wood. Owner Brian Rennekamp carries on the heritage of the Old World craftsmanship and is also the lead installer on many special cabinetry and renovation projects. (New Vendor)

WildwaterWildwater Custom Cabinetry’s Justin Williamson says to succeed as a custom cabinetmaker "you build whatever the customer wants." His experience as a furniture maker for a variety of local companies is reflected in his own firm’s custom cabinetry work. (New vendor)

In addition to such don’t-miss exhibitors, another draw at DesignBuildCincy is the Soapbox Speaker Series, which has been expanded to seven sessions over both days of the show this year (including, for the first time, two that offer Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for qualified design professionals). For more details on the Saturday and Sunday sessions, visit the DesignBuildCincy Soapbox Speaker Series story with a complete list by speaker and topic. 

This is the show’s fourth year. What else is new this time around?

“I wanted to provide a more interactive, upbeat experience, so our two presentation areas are included with admission to DesignBuildCincy this year,” says Hart. “Last year, the presentations were in Memorial Hall and separately ticketed, so this is an opportunity for attendees to enjoy a day or even weekend of design in OTR.”

Another addition to the show this year is the “Meet the Makers Stage” on Saturday. “These presentations have been added to give a few of our artisan/fabricators vendors an opportunity to convey the value of buying custom-made products,” Hart explains. “Many fabricators have told me that consumers often just want a veneer of quality and aren’t willing to pay the extra cost to work directly with the artist/creator to get a higher quality product. One mission of DesignBuildCincy is to introduce consumers and trade professionals to local fabricators, and ‘Meet the Makers’ will give them a chance to present to a small audience.” (Seating for the sessions is limited.)

Here are the Meet the Makers Stage participants and their topics presenting on Saturday, 10.27:

  • 11:30 a.m. Kate Demske, Solid Ground Studio, “Adventures of an Artist/Blacksmith.”
  • 1 p.m. David Bach, Cincinnati Wood Collaborative, “Farm to Table: Made in Ohio.”
  • 2 p.m. Branden Francis, Sediment Design Co., “Multidisciplinary Design for Cohesive Brand Experiences.”
  • 3 p.m. Christopher Schwarz, Lost Art Press, “Better after Abuse: Stealing an Ancient Joinery Practice for Modern Furniture.”

Hart says the show has been a success for both attendees and exhibitors in years past, and he expects the same this time around. “I get excited about people showing up and enjoying what has been carefully curated for them,” he says. “I get even more excited when a vendor tells me he/she made many new contacts and booked business at the show.”

Adult admission to DesignBuildCincy is $10; children under 13 get in free. A $2 discount on advance ticket sales can be obtained on the website. DesignBuildCincy advance tickets here

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Read more articles by Matthew Hall.

Matthew Hall is a Mount Lookout-based freelance writer/editor specializing in covering architectural and design trends. His career includes stints with the Cincinnati Business Courier, the Cincinnati Enquirer, Fatbrain.com (an online bookseller) and Boutique Design magazine. He's also happy to be a later-in-life dad who adopted two children from Guatemala with his wife.